‘How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.’
‘Thanksgivings will pour out of the windows;
laughter will spill through the doors.
Things will get better and better.
Depression days are over.
They’ll thrive, they’ll flourish.
The days of contempt will be over.
They’ll look forward to having children again’
Jeremiah 30 [the message]
Sometimes writing only goes so far, and sometimes it becomes increasingly difficult to try and give language to experiences and emotions. I am going to do my best to put into words …just how much I have wanted her.
This has been my journey for the past three years. And I am only beginning to step into this place called ‘Restoration’… But I have to say that it feels like warm sunshine on the first day of spring.
And yes, I can say with confidence that the dark days are over. How do I know that? Well, this is where her story begins.
Maybe you have followed my journey and always wondered, “Why?“
Or maybe you have stood back from afar and judged me and wondered what horrible thing I could have possibly done for this to happen to me. People do that, you know. (Please don’t do that) ..It’s called bad theology. 🙂
After the loss of Isaac in 2012, and even after I got pregnant with Grace a whole eight weeks later, I was diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder called “Factor 5 Leiden.” Basically that just means that I have a genetic, hereditary gene that causes my blood to clot when it is unnecessary. I myself have never had a clot, but in pregnancy the risk is seven times higher for me and to my unborn baby due to increased estrogen. It causes clots in the placenta, and also in the umbilical cord, cutting off oxygen and nutrients. A simple blood test could have prevented the life of my son from being taken, but at the same time I can’t begin to hold that against anyone, because I would not have my Gracious girl. And she is pretty much the most amazing precious child on the planet in my biased opinion!
One Sunday morning in August of 2014, I was in the middle of worship at our new church. I was having a hard time emotionally engaging, but I just couldn’t put my finger on why. I had gotten together all of my maternity clothes to give away to my sister-in-law that morning and thought nothing of it. But as I tried to worship, my heart was heavy. I realized that grief had been triggered from just the simple act of holding them. I wore them with Isaac. They touched my belly when his heart was beating inside of me. It was a process of letting go, even still almost two years later. Holy Spirit suddenly interrupted my thoughts and whispered, “You want another baby.” I smiled. “No, I don’t.” I responded. “Yes, you do.” He said again. In my heart, I knew he was right. Despite how much I was loving my finally-back-to-normal postpartum body after pretty much a long continuous 15 month stretch of pregnancy and a year of breastfeeding, I really did want another. But I was afraid. I didn’t want to experience loss again. And then Holy Spirit spoke one more time. This time he said,
“I will heal you.”
I took in all his words and treasured them up in my heart in that moment, just like Mary.
At the end of that worship service, I worshipped like I had not worshipped in a long time. With my whole heart, I was reaching for Him. I was crying out to be healed emotionally from all of the shame. From all of the fear and anxiety. From all of the timidity and unbelief that I had harbored inside of me since the day Isaac died and I seemed to lose my identity. I desperately wanted to believe in the goodness of God- and I did. But I could not believe it was for me. I could not find within myself the faith that I had before to believe in all the things that God had promised to me. I no longer had boldness in his presence, I no longer had the capacity, the abandonment to give all of myself to Jesus.
How can you give yourself to someone you don’t fully trust? Ah, You can’t.
So I stood there tears streaming down my face, not caring a thing about what I appeared to look like. I was caught up with Him, and he was touching my heart in a deep way. All I could say was, “I believe that you can do great things. I believe that you can do great things in me.”
And even as I spoke, the worship leader stopped singing and began to speak to the room. He said, “There is someone in here, a mother, who has lost a baby. And ever since then you have doubted what God could do in your life…my wife and I, we have lost a baby and we understand…and he just wants you to know that you can trust him. Trust him to do great things in your life.”
As I listened, my heart went out to that poor mother he was talking about. “Oh, wow.” I said to myself. “There is someone here feeling exactly as I am feeling..” And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: He was talking about ME. He was talking to me!
That day changed me. God had spoken precious things to my heart. He had given me courage, when I could not find it within myself. He gave me hope.
So, of course, we began trying for another baby soon afterward. I was still breastfeeding so it was difficult and I was not regular. But still, God had said. God had spoken and initiated the desires of my heart that only he knew.
About a month or so later, I had a series of dreams. In the first dream, I was holding a positive pregnancy test up to the light. Two bright pink lines. That was all there was to it. I woke up and I was happy. I thought, ‘Yes. God is encouraging me! He knows that we have been trying. Great! I know I will get that positive soon.’ I was a bit naive in my interpretation at that point.
Then, two weeks later, I had another dream. In this dream, I had a second daughter named Deborah. I knew that she was named after the prophetess in the bible; she was a leader of the people, a counselor (judge), and a mother to the children of Israel. “Great!” I thought again. “That positive test is our daughter- and her name is Deborah!” Again, I was happy (and naive.)
After six months of trying to get pregnant, I threw away yet another test. Negative. I was feeling so emotional and discouraged. A few days later, as I was filling up a bath for myself, I felt Holy Spirit prompt me to take another pregnancy test. “No way.” I thought. “I already know that I’m not! I am not going to do that to myself and get my hopes up.” But again, I heard him say “Take the test. If it’s negative, you can always just throw it away..” By this time I could feel his smile over me. I got into the bath and noticed my slightly bloated tummy. “Maybe I really should take one..” I thought. And as I got out of the bathtub, I heard another voice, this time even clearer in my heart. “You are pregnant, but you are going to lose this baby.” I quickly brushed it off as “Not God” and went to take the test. To my utter amazement, It immediately glared positive! I was completely shocked since I had tested only days before and gotten a negative. My husband was giving our then one year old daughter a bath so I ran to the store to get another test in total disbelief! That one had to be wrong, right? Well, in the Publix bathroom there they were in all their glory. Those two lines. I just couldn’t contain my excitement and I ended up telling the cashier on the way out the door!
We had jokingly called her “Little Debbie Cake” when she was just a wish in our hearts. So to surprise my husband, I bought some “Little Debbie Swiss Rolls” and threw them and the positive test in a gift bag. When he opened it, he cried tears of joy. We were so happy! It would be months before I remembered that little voice I had heard.
This time I had a new doctor in a new state, and after talking it over we decided not to do the daily injections of Lovenox (anti-coagulent). Why? Because they were painful and downright annoying day after day for 10 months. And at that point the Doctor could not say that it was the sole cause of my loss, only that it was a possibility. So I took this medication out of assumption, not based on facts since we never did an autopsy with Isaac. Not to mention it’s really not ideal for anyone to have in their system; the long term side effects are bone loss to the mother/weakness/osteoporosis later in life etc. So we decided to believe God for the best and just take a daily aspirin. I thought to myself, “He said he would heal me.” Assuming that he meant the blood disorder. Well, the daily aspirin was not enough, and we lost that baby at 14 weeks on Easter morning. I was not miraculously healed like I’d hoped to be. It was out of assumption that I’d made that decision, not faith; because well.. faith works.
After I lost the baby on Easter morning, I remembered that voice that so lovingly
spoke to me, and I knew it was Him. It wasn’t a demon. It wasn’t all in my head. It was my Father. Ever so lovingly telling me what was to come so that I could look back with confidence trusting that He is with me every step- That He is sovereign through it all.
I realized in the days that followed that the two dreams were not in fact about the same baby. I
misinterpreted again. but still- He was speaking.
After Grace’s healthy full term pregnancy, we just didn’t think we would ever lose another child. Isaac’s story was just so intensely tragic and God forbid we ever have to walk through it again. I had already learned that lesson, right? So after almost two years and feeling like I was beginning to heal and get on with a “normal” life, that loss set back literally years of emotional healing for me. All the confidence I had rebuilt, all the faith that I had regained and let God touch and restore, seemed to be completely useless for just one moment. But then, it wasn’t. I knew at that point how to navigate the grief that was once so foreign to me. I understood all that the process entailed and the healing that I needed. But what I didn’t foresee was the waiting. The getting pregnant part has never been a problem for us.
After Isaac’s delivery and postpartum, my body went back to normal immediately and we conceived. But after this miscarriage, my body was in so much shock that I was having 35-40 day cycles and that usually means it’s not even possible to conceive. It took us six more months. Six months doesn’t seem like that long, but when you desperately want a baby, you cry every month. There is not a day that goes by that you ache and you want and you desire for that life to be inside of you. And for two weeks out of every one of those months, you let your heart swell and flutter and wonder if just maybe you are! And then you aren’t.
It’s just not always fun. trying to conceive has its serious emotional tolls, and If it were not for my scenario, I’d say just wait and let it happen. But after loss that is nearly impossible. You feel robbed, you feel so cheated. The devil comes to steal kill and destroy, and It was my warfare in all seriousness to have another child. There was no medical reason for me to wait, because my losses were not linked to any nutritional or hormonal problems. And we all know that person who has like 11 babies in 9 years, however that is possible, right?
In early September, which was around my due date for the baby we had just lost, I had little hope left and my heart was wavering with how long it felt like this process was taking. I was just trying to do what God had told me to do- have a baby! It was also around this time that Todd Bentley, a healing evangelist, came to our church. I had heard him years before so I knew that he heard from God and I had experienced the gift on his life dramatically as a teenager. So even though I didn’t really want to go to the meeting, in my heart I knew it would be worthwhile. I reluctantly went into the church meeting on the second night of his conference, not expecting much. I had just a mustard seed of faith- I guess it was enough..
He began to release a spirit of prayer and intercession, and suddenly my spirit took over and I started to pray. Tears rolled down my face as I heard my lips say to Jesus, “Let Deborah come inside me.”
That was all I could say- but it was with a desperation and a faith and a real conviction that God was in fact listening in that moment intently. It was a two fold prayer; a prayer for my daughter, and a prayer for my life.
When I was sixteen years old and I heard the audible voice of God for one of the very first times, he said this:
That I would be like Deborah, the prophetess. A mother, a teacher and counselor, a leader and a prophet. I didn’t even know Deborah was in the bible until he said that to me. So when I looked it up it was quite shocking that everything he said was right there in the book! And at that moment in Todd Bentley’s meeting I felt farther from that promise than I ever have since he gave it to me. I felt completely dejected. But something inside me began to cry out.
“Let Deborah come inside me”
And as I interceded for myself, I felt Jesus literally reaching inside of my heart and blowing on the ashes of the tiniest spark left burning.
Todd began to prophesy and intercede for Birmingham and I found myself curled up in the corner, snot and tears, all the works. And then the strangest thing happened…
He said, “I see a honey hive. I see the church as a honey hive and honey bees coming in and out carrying the rich honey presence of Jesus to the nations and all over the city. Do you know what that means?”
At this point I knew that Deborah meant “honey bee” so I was still having my encounter with Jesus thinking about all that had come out of my heart. I thought, “okay, man, I need to snap out of it and listen to what Todd is saying. I am making this all about me! Of course he isnt talking about Deborah. Hes just talking about bees.” (of course this was all just a quick internal conversation to myself!)
And then he said it. “Do you know that this means? Honey bees.. It means Deborah is coming! Awake, Arise Deborah! Let the spirit of Deborah come and let the women take their place on the front lines in the church!”
He literally was yelling “Awake! Arise Deborah! Let Deborah Come!”
I was in total shock, obviously.
Im sure everyone at that point wondered if I was in fact dying on the floor back there due to the sounds of weeping coming out of me haha.
I yelled and cried and snotted and worshipped and I just knew in my heart that she was REALLY coming and God had not forgotten me! He was listening, and he cared, and she was real.
So after Grace’s second birthday mid September, we tried ONE more time (with little conviction it would happen I might add.) But it did. Three and a half weeks later I held in my hand that little test and it gleamed it’s two pink lines at me. I couldn’t believe it. I went to the doctor’s office that next Monday and got a prescription for the lovenox right away. They also put me on progesterone. Now, I had a good doctor. He was nice enough. But they didn’t even ask me how far along I was when they checked my levels. uh, isn’t that kind of important???? After 5 days of progesterone and some horrible cramping, I started to bleed and I knew that it was over before it started.
Turns out my levels had been in a completely normal range from the beginning and I hadn’t even needed the medication that my body completely rejected. My levels dropped and the rest is history. I never even heard the heartbeat. It was worse than being stabbed in the heart at that point, even though I had only been five weeks along. We had been trying for so long it felt like. And because of someone’s careless mistake, I had to pay for it with the life of my child.
We had been so sure that this was her. So SURE. But I have learned that it doesn’t matter what you think you know. It only matters that you trust.
And trust we did. We picked ourselves up, and we took a two-night date trip to Chattanooga like any other sane couple would do. We had to get away and process and re-connect and pray. This loss was surprisingly more painful than the last. It is a shame and confusion that builds on itself. I just felt more and more incapable. More and more shame and failure. And the hardest of all, I knew it would be a long while before I got to hold a baby in my arms.
But God always shows up. And he always shows up in the least likely or expected way. He’s funny like that. I like that about Him.
One morning while we were there walking around the city, exploring coffee shops and eating too many donuts, we came across a man who was asking for help. We stopped and listened to his short mumbled sentences and his situation. He would not stop saying, “Wow! You are really listening to me! I have been asking for help since 7:00am and no one has even stopped to listen.” It was 2:00pm. All he needed was some dollars to catch the bus because his ride had fallen through when he got off his overnight work shift. He looked rough, but not like he was lying. And even if he was, we didn’t care. We just wanted to help him. So on the short walk to an ATM, we talked with Martin. As we rounded the corner, I noticed a small tattoo peeking out from his T-shirt sleeve. Do you know what it was? It was the “Little Debbie Cakes” logo. Yes, the one on the box of swiss rolls.
My heart just about leapt out of my chest and it was all I could do to hide the huge grin that was growing on my face. Really God? Really? Who even has that as a tattoo??
I knew in my heart that it would be soon, but let’s be honest,
I didn’t think that it would be two weeks! But back to the story…
When we got home from our trip that week, I remember sitting with James in our bedroom and just talking through everything. I said, “I know that God doesn’t test us.. But that Satan did tempt Job. I feel like the past three years (since Isaac died) have been a test.. And I feel like I passed this time.”
I really felt different in my heart than after any other previous losses. I felt unmovable in my faith. I felt like there was only momentum for me to keep believing, because damn it I knew Deborah was real and she was a promise and far be it from me to give up.
The next night Todd Bentley was back in town, and we went of course to his meeting. I knew better than to miss it after the last time! Again, I didn’t expect much for some reason. Ha!
That first night he shared about his recent trip to Pakistan where he saw a 12 year old boy raised from the dead in front of 300,00 muslims after preaching the gospel to them. (When he didn’t even really have faith for it, I might add! God is fun.) He then went on and began to prophesy.
He started to talk about Abraham and Isaac as a metaphor. He said in essence “The things that God has asked you to lay down and to sacrifice, he is giving you back. The mantle and calling that you laid down out of hurt or confusion or fear, God wants to give back to you. Can you keep believing when everything is against you? Through your failures, through all the hurt and betrayal? Can you still believe? God wants you to know: the Isaac that you laid down on the Altar- You passed the test, you passed the trial.”
Of course, I cried my eyes out. It was word for word what I had just told James the night before about our Isaac and it was like he was talking straight to us.
As if that weren’t confirmation enough, the next night during a lull in worship he began to prophesy again- this time about God giving out mantles. I was sitting in my chair quietly when fire fell. Right on me. Not really anyone else in the room.. haha! It was very sovereign and I was shaking uncontrollably in this encounter with our extremely gracious God. I didn’t deserve it. I wasn’t asking for it. He just came and rested on me, because He’s really good.
As Todd began to prophesy about mantles, Jesus started to speak to me.
“10 years ago when you were 16 I told you that you would be like Deborah. I’m giving you that mantle of a prophet now. And you will know that this is me, because you are pregnant with Deborah. And you will know that this baby is really Deborah, because I am giving you this mantle.”
I felt so disqualified in that moment. I felt so ugly. So like the prodigal who had wasted his inheritance and all that he had been given. But you know what? God didn’t care if I felt qualified. His love qualified me. His mercy and patience and his strength qualified me.
And this is the kind of story you just can’t make up, folks.
That next Saturday, just a few days later, was Halloween. The exact three year anniversary that we found out Isaac had died inside me. You can imagine the anticipation I felt waiting to take that test! On that friday before, in my impatience I tried to take an early test- negative. Ugh!! All the emotions! What if I was wrong? What if that wasn’t God I had heard and I am a crazy lunatic? All of these thoughts were pretty consuming that friday.
Later that evening I was in the living room with Grace and I looked up to see something on our window. Hmm. A bug? I got up and walked over to see what it was.
It was…. you guessed. A honey bee.
In October. on my window pane.
And all I could do was smile.
The next day I took a test, and we found out that I was pregnant.. With Deborah. Three years to the day.
Three years of trial, over. Three years of testing, passed. Three years of grief and pain and loss, ended. By God’s mouth- it was a new season. A season of restoration and hope and unbelievable redemption. It was almost too much to be honest. It was OVER the TOP ridiculous. OVER the TOP good and healing and comforting. My Father knows me. He knows my story. In fact, he is still writing it.
And I am still in the middle of that story…. Waiting patiently for my miracle girl and my redemption.
He is a good good Father.
He never tempts us. He doesn’t test us through loss and pain. He doesn’t “allow” the enemy to steal from us. He does not sit back wondering how we will respond like some twisted perverse child abuser that gives permission for the devil to kill our families…Just can’t convince me of that.
But he does restore.
And He did pay the highest price with the life of his son to give us healing, wholeness, and hope, and to raise the dead that have been taken. He did come and He did conquer darkness and death so that everlasting light could win forever… That is my God.
And so he is restoring in me, hope.
He is restoring in me, faith.
It’s not an overnight process. No it is uncomfortably long right now. But I know that when she is curled up in my arms and breathing her first breaths my heart will swell with a song of his continual faithfulness.
So may all your enemies perish, O Lord!
And may those who love you
Be like the sun when it rises in full strength.”
The Song of Deborah,